2018 Indian Scout Bobber | First Ride Review

2018 Indian Scout Bobber action
Powered by the same 100-horsepower, liquid-cooled, 69 cubic-inch V-twin as the standard Scout, the new Scout Bobber has blacked-out, stripped-down styling, a more aggressive riding position and a new cartridge fork. (Photos by Barry Hathaway)

When Indian launched the Scout for 2015, it was only a matter of time before spin-off models followed. Just a year after introducing the big, air-cooled Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin and the three-model Chief lineup, the reinvigorated Indian Motorcycle brand—given a new lease on life by deep-pocketed Polaris Industries—rolled out a second all-new engine and motorcycle platform. Powering the midsize Scout cruiser was a liquid-cooled, 1,133cc (69ci) 60-degree V-twin with DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder that made a claimed 100 horsepower and 72 lb-ft of torque.

Read our 2015 Indian Scout first ride review

2018 Indian Scout Bobber Bronze Smoke beauty
Clipped fenders, LED stop/turn/tail lights, a side-mount license plate, a two-tone leather seat and bar-end mirrors are just a few of the styling details unique to the 2018 Indian Scout Bobber.

First came the Scout Sixty, a smaller-displacement (999cc/61 ci), lower-priced model introduced last year that’s aimed at entry-level and/or budget-conscious riders. A higher performance model called the Octane, which shared a striking resemblance and 35 percent of its parts with the Scout, was introduced by Indian’s sister brand Victory, but its run was cut short when Polaris shuttered Victory Motorcycles last January, shifting those resources over to rapidly-growing Indian.

Read our 2016 Indian Scout Sixty road test review

2018 Indian Scout Bobber action
Up front is a new cartridge-style fork, a headlight nacelle and a black handlebar with reversible bar-end mirrors. One-inch-shorter rear shocks give the 2018 Indian Scout Bobber a lower profile.

Although some folks have been clamoring for a high-piped tracker version of the Scout to celebrate Indian’s success in American Flat Track racing, that isn’t to be (for now). Instead, during the X Games in Polaris’ hometown of Minneapolis, where Indian’s Wrecking Crew of Jared Mees, Brad Baker and Bryan Smith finished 2nd, 3rd and 6th, respectively, in flat track racing, Indian unveiled the new Scout Bobber.

Inspired by motorcycles stripped-down and hot-rodded by young veterans after World War II, the Scout Bobber takes a dark, less-is-more approach to styling. There’s less chrome and fewer shiny bits, the fenders have been clipped and the riding position is more aggressive, with a longer reach to the tracker-style handlebar but a shorter reach to footpegs and controls that have been moved 1.5 inches back. An inch of travel has been taken out of the lay-down rear shocks (down to 2 inches), but seat height is actually a bit taller (25.6 inches) because the new, two-tone leather seat is thicker. The non-adjustable fork offers the same 4.7 inches of travel, but it now has a cartridge design for better compliance.

2018 Indian Scout Bobber five colors
Color options on the 2018 Indian Scout Bobber include (from left): gloss Thunder Black (shown with accessories), matte Bronze Smoke, matte Star Silver Smoke, matte Thunder Black Smoke (with ABS only) and gloss Indian Motorcycle Red.

To set it apart from the standard Scout and give it an appropriately urban vibe, the Bobber’s exhaust, frame, handlebars, mirrors, cast aluminum wheels, primary and clutch covers, headlight nacelle and single-gauge instrument are all blacked out, the chunky tires have a semi-knobby tread pattern and the rear end has been cleaned up with a pair of LED stop/turn/tail lights and a side-mount license plate.

On a hot, bright, humid morning after the Scout Bobber was unveiled at the Indian Hometown Throwdown Powered by Maxim, a big warehouse party packed wall to wall with motorcyclists, young X Games fans and “influencers,” we gathered in a gritty parking lot full of Bobbers in various colors and degrees of accessory adornment. For the base price of $11,499, the Bobber comes in glossy Thunder Black. For another $500, its available in glossy Indian Motorcycle Red, matte Star Silver Smoke or matte Bronze Smoke, all three of which have a cool black fade on the side of the 3.3-gallon steel tank. For $12,499, the Bobber comes with ABS in matte Thunder Black Smoke only. Giving the Bobber a distinctive look is an Indian Scout logo in block-style lettering on the tank. Bobber-specific accessories include a springer-style saddle, apehanger handlebars, a passenger seat and pegs, a solo rack bag for the rear fender, a solo saddlebag and spoked wheels. Most other Scout accessories will fit the Bobber, including Reduced Reach and Extended Reach foot controls.

2018 Indian Scout Bobber action
The 2018 Indian Scout Bobber’s light weight, compact dimensions and lively engine encourage a faster-than-typical cruiser pace, but limited cornering clearance requires wide, graceful cornering.

Settling into the Bobber’s seat, my first adjustment was to the bar-end mirrors, which knocked into my knees in the below-the-grips position that looks so cool in photos. Using the hex wrench under the quick-release seat (which doesn’t lock, by the way), it’s easy to unscrew both mirrors, swap them left and right, and put them in the above-the-grips position. Being 6 feet tall with a 34-inch inseam, my primary issue with the Bobber is the same one I have with the standard Scout: it’s too compact for my rangy frame. With the pegs moved back and the handlebar moved forward, I’m more stretched out up top and more cramped down below. It’s fine for a short ride, but after about 30 minutes my back and shoulders needed a break and the small kick-up on the back of the seat had done a number on my tailbone. Such is the price we pay for style.

2018 Indian Scout Bobber Bronze Smoke seat
The 2018 Indian Scout Bobber’s black-and-brown leather seat adds to the old-school look, but it’s not very comfortable.

Knocking around the streets of downtown Minneapolis on the Scout Bobber is fun, but there are are limits. Boot heels and peg feelers drag in all but the most gentle of corners, the single front disc with 2-piston caliper doesn’t offer much power or feedback, and the short-travel rear shocks bottom easily when riding over beat-up pavement, offsetting the better compliance of the new cartridge fork. But with such a lively, responsive engine, easy-shifting 6-speed gearbox and modest curb weight (554 pounds, claimed), those limits don’t feel all that limiting. This is a cruiser-based bobber, after all.

2018 Indian Scout Bobber action
The 2018 Indian Scout Bobber is aimed at urban riders, but I enjoyed riding it most out in the country. The former North Western Casket Company factory near downtown Minneapolis is now an art center.

Out in the countryside is where the Bobber impressed me most. Despite its urban styling, the Bobber is better suited for the smooth pavement, gentle curves and rolling farmland outside of Minneapolis. Its V-twin makes plenty of power and torque with a responsive connection between the right grip and the rear wheel, but sound and feel—like the standard Scout—are too muted, especially for a bike with such rough-n-tumble curb appeal. A few test bikes were fitted with the accessory Performance Air Intake and Stage 1 exhaust, which add a bit more bark and bite.

Given the popularity of bobbers, café racers and scramblers these days, Indian’s new Scout Bobber will no doubt sell like ice cream on a hot summer’s day. (And I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see café racer and scrambler versions of the Scout in the lineup soon.) My issues with comfort will be of little concern to those who place a higher priority on style, but the good news is that those concerns can be addressed with accessories. How will it fare against the Triumph Bonneville Bobber? We’ll have to do a comparison test to find out.

2018 Indian Scout Bobber Bronze Smoke tank
The 2018 Indian Scout Bobber’s block-style lettering and two-tone paint job on the tank add to its distinctive look.

2018 Indian Scout Bobber Specs
Base Price:
$11,499
Price As Tested: $11,999 (color)
Website: indianmotorcycle.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree, V-twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,133cc (69ci)
Bore x Stroke: 99.0mm x 73.6mm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Wheelbase: 61.5 in.
Rake/Trail: 29 degrees/4.7 in.
Seat Height: 25.6 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 554 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 3.3 gals., last 0.5 gal. warning light on
MPG: 91 PON min. / NA

Greg’s Gear
Helmet: Shoei RF-1200
Jacket: Highway 21 Turbine
Pants: Scorpion Covert Pro
Boots: Highway 21 Primary Engineer

 

 

 

12 COMMENTS

  1. The best Indian Scout is the one you can’t get anymore: the Victory Octane. Everything about it is better than its Indian cousins, including a nice-looking engine (unlike the Scout Skeleton look).

    • Yes, I agree. I rode both and bought the Octane, hands down, no contest. Very pleased.
      To those familiar with Harley, the Scout is to an 883 Sportster like the Octane is to a Stage 2 1200 Sportster with suspension tweaks, except it was cheaper than the Scout! If you are any way interested in performance, get one before they are all gone. This Scout looks like they are trying to repeat/recall the looks of the Octane but without the performance.

      • The Scout Bobber will have to do as a replacement for the Octane. As for Sportsters, the Scout weighs the same as a 2018 Sporster Roadster, but has 30% more horsepower (but you’ll have to take my word for it- Harley is too ashamed to list the Sportster’s horsepower on their website).

  2. The 2018 Indian Bobber Black is sharp looking, to say the least. This Bike will definitely turn a corner for Indian to gain new, younger customers, over to Indian. 1133cc Power, and Retro looks, Blacked out, Awesome combination for Bike!
    Looks like they’ve rolled out a winner on this one!

  3. I agree with several of the points you make, nice write up. I do like the look of the bike but I just can’t ride anything with a low seat height and forward controls. If only they would take the awesome Project 156 as inspiration and build an affordable American Scout Tracker/Sport bike.

  4. Another nice option in the Bobber genre if one likes this sort of style. Not for me but a Flat Tracker version that goes around corners well?, that I would be very interested in.

  5. It always surprises me that after going to all the effort and costs in introducing a new bike like this into production that they just can’t seem to get the ergos right. It’s baffling. The new Harley small displacement models are even worse. I do wish Indian well. There may be a time in my future that I just might have to upgrade my 1100 Shadow Spirit for one of these, but not until they sort out the ergonomics

  6. Nice compact engine, decent power, just a shame it’s designed to look at, not to ride. If they produced a version that focused on performance and handling, I’d buy one in a shot. As it is, I’d want to upgrade brakes, suspension, move footrests back, etc.

  7. The tank graphics look cool. This begs for some black spoked wheels with red pin striping and a thorough going over in the ergo’s department. Overall, What were you thinking Indian? No experienced rider would want to subject himself to this torture device. Well I spoke too soon. HD riders would, if it said HD on the tank.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here